The use and costs of Medicare services in the last 2 years of life

Health Care Financ Rev. Spring 1984;5(3):117-31.


This study reports on the use of services by Medicare enrollees who died in 1978. Decedents comprised 5.9 percent of the study group but accounted for 28 percent of Medicare expenditures. The use of services became more intense as death approached. Despite the idea that heroic efforts to prolong life are common, only 6 percent of persons who died had more than $15,000 in Medicare expenses in their last year of life. As shown here, the unique patterns of health care use by decedents and survivors should be fully understood and considered when contemplating changes in the Medicare program.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Federal Government
  • Humans
  • Medicare / statistics & numerical data*
  • Resource Allocation
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Terminal Care / economics*
  • United States